“Buy two, get the third free!”
But I only need one.
“Save 20%, today only!”
But I’m busy today.
“Go with us and pay less!”
But am I getting less?
“Get a free this with that!”
Is it Christmas?
“Earn double points!”
Sometimes I wish businesses would focus less on deals and more on solving a real problem. I know many of these slogans apply to retail businesses and they are certainly in a different game than cleaning, building maintenance and janitorial, but it seems like nearly everywhere I look, businesses are emphasizing a deal or price, but skimping on problem solving and real value.
Sure, everyone likes to save money or get free stuff but really what kind of businesses get our business for the long haul? Those that solve problems. Delivering a quality product or service is certainly problem solving because whether it’s a wrinkle free, well fitting men’s dress shirt or a top notch janitorial company, both will make your life easier.
And of course, lower prices are great if you are getting the same service, but we all know that doesn’t happen very often. Delivering a low price is not the same as delivering value. Value is about your perception of what you are getting versus what you are paying. For instance, when shopping cereals at the grocery store, one box may be cheaper but smaller than a slightly more expensive box. If you look at the price per ounce, you’ll see that the larger box is a better value. Unless of course no one in your house eats that brand which in turn negates any cost savings you might get! In my own industry, some companies are cheaper yes, but value suffers more often than not. If you are paying 10% less money for 40% less in services, the value is just not there.
So how do you solve a problem? Of course you could uncover a problem and invent the next best thing, but most of us aren’t in that game. You solve problems by being all that your competition isn’t. What complaints are common in your industry? Be the one company or among the few companies that don’t do that. Surprise your customers by being better. My industry is known for high turnover and our turnover here at Stathakis is significantly below industry averages. That solves a problem for our customers because it means fewer new people in and out of their buildings and better overall service. Is your industry known for constant upselling? Be the company that what you see is what you get. Be the doctor that always runs on time and doesn’t rush you through. Be the diet company that doesn't promise overnight results.
Most of us leaders, owners, managers, salespeople and the like want to build our businesses, make money, dominate our fields and achieve excellence. Sure the occasional deal has its place, but it’s usually about what you need rather than what the customer needs. You need to clear inventory, you need to make your month, you need to meet budgets. Focus on your customers’ needs and problems and you will last the marathon and not just the sprint.